This was not an easy game for the Predators. Randy Carlyle in game 4 sent career goon Jarkko Ruutu to take out one of the Predators leading scorers in the regular season and in the playoffs in Marty Erat. Erat missed game 5 and will probably miss the rest of the first round because of a hit to his head for which Ruutu received a one game suspension. This play embodies all that is wrong with hockey and the lack of class in the Ducks organization. An Oil can- a goon with little value to a team takes out a star for their opponent. Congratulations, Randy Carlyle. You are a classless piece of work.
In spite of that adversity, the Predators were determined to make a game of it at the Honda Center. The Predators have never won a first round game five in the history of this franchise. Would this trend change?
Would history be made?
The game opened well for the Predators as Jordin Tootoo made a spectacular assist to Kevin Klein, who was driving the net from his defensive position. Tootoo got leverage on the Ducks defender and got the angle to slip a pass to Klein. Klein was breaking in all alone, and made not mistake in burying the shot to give the Predators a 1-0 lead at 8:32 of the first period. Klein abused Ray Emery, who does not have the speed to come across the crease,
There was no more scoring in the first period, but not for lack of effort. Both Emery in net for the Ducks and Pekka Rinne for the Predators had to make some great saves to keep the other team off the board.
The Dirty Ducks would tie the game at 13:39 of the second period as Jason Blake would power home a a power play goal. Jonathan Blum played the puck at the front of the net instead of the man and it allowed Blake to get several jabs a the puck after the initial save by Rinne. Blake finally manged to poke the puck under Rinne to tie the game at 1.
There was no further scoring in the period, but this only set the stage for an exciting and dramatic third period.
The Dirty Ducks opened the scoring just 40 seconds into the third period as David Legwand was guilty of a lazy pass and then was abused by
Joel Ward tied the game at 11:20 with a nice snap shot that beat Emery. Ward got open in the slot and fired the puck to the back of the net to tie the game on a shot that Emery could not have stopped if he wanted to. Heart was beginning to show itself.
Heart was going to have some work to do, however, as Jason Blake would tally his second goal from the slot as the Teemu Selanne found Blake in the slot and he beat Rinne again to his glove side at 14:16.
Clock running down and a one goal deficit on hostile ice. Doesn't look good for the good guys, does it?
This was a matter of heart, however, and the Predators have that in abundance.
Tick, tick, tick.... the clock melting away and a band of thugs looking as if they would take a 3-2 series lead.
That would change with just 35 seconds remaining in the contest as a warrior would step to the fore. Shea Weber would get a shot through traffic and tie the game at 3. The final seconds would melt off the clock and the Predators would play their third overtime in the last 5 first round series.
Would they get their first win?
That question was answered just 1:57 into the bonus period as Jerred Smithson would notch his first playoff goal. Smithson would beat Emery off a nice assist from Jordin Tootoo, his second of the game, and all of a sudden the Predators had entered uncharted territory with their third win in a first round series.
How fitting that a solid citizen, a blue collar plugger who kills penalties and is solid in the defensive zone would score the game winner? Class has won out over flash and thuggery in this contest.
I have contended that for the Predators to advance into the second round and beyond, they would need scoring from the third and fourth lines. Tonight, they got that.
Tonight, class won out.
One more, boys. One more win for class over the goons from Anaheim.
Sunday in Nashville.
Hell awaits the classless thugs from Anaheim.
My three stars:
1. Jerred Smithson
2. Jordin Tootoo
3. Jason Blake